8 july 2015, greece - the end

Working at the ecb the night euros first came out of atms was a proud moment. It now looks likely different notes will eventually be coming out of greek banks. This may be what the greek government has envisaged for some time given the way it has managed the situation: reversing reforms and wearing brinkmanship and obtusity as badges of pride, perhaps afraid to openly make the (not-unjustifiable) case that they may be best off out the euro now and so letting events prevail. There may have been little choice given a public that wants the euro but clearly favours the expansionist platform on which syriza was elected but which is in stark contrast to the binding terms greece signed up to when borrowing money. Debtors, alas, don't get to dictate repayment conditions, even when democratically elected to do so (see 21 february 2015, le demos nouveaux et arrivé). So, let the others be the baddies, giving tsipras and co some of the domestic political capital they will need in the months ahead. Even those years ago there was unease that greece, an economic outlier, making the grade looked like a triumph of political idealism over economic common. Yet its numbers were sturdy - until they weren't: it turned out, greece completely fiddled its figures, on the assumption no-one would to throw them out over a little creative accounting. And so it proved. Now, the first western country in living memory to default, its banks all but insolvent, its economy 25% smaller than 5 years ago, 50% of its youth unemployed, greece a country being hurtled backwards to the balkan neighbourhood it seemed to have escaped, but only on the surface. European indulgence, it turns out, has limits. While the eurogroup on the other side made mistakes, in this bitterest of ends, the whole of the body is prized higher than the arm which if it really can't be healed must ultimately be cut off, as if in a more classic greek tragedy. The euro area will survive, perhaps even be stronger in the long-term; but for greece, these days bring unmitigated disaster. The rest of the eu must surely be extremely magnanimous in humanitarian and other relief to try and hold the line at the broader union, if indeed after another few months of acrimonious monetary divorce, greece and the broader european body politic still want that. After so much, that it should come to this.